Belfast Telegraph

There is no way back for Kyle Lafferty now, warns Northern Ireland legend

Bad call: Kyle Lafferty pulling out at late notice has angered boss Michael O’Neill
Bad call: Kyle Lafferty pulling out at late notice has angered boss Michael O’Neill

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland legend Billy Hamilton fears Kyle Lafferty's international career is over after his fall-out with manager Michael O'Neill.

The Northern Ireland boss was fuming after Lafferty's late withdrawal from the squad for the weekend double header away to Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Just hours after coming off the bench in Rangers' 3-1 win over Hearts on Sunday, Lafferty called O'Neill to inform him he would not be travelling the next day to a training camp in Austria prior to tomorrow's Nations League clash in Vienna.

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Lafferty, who has scored 20 goals for his country, has been struggling with an Achilles problem recently but there was no mention of any injury in an Irish FA statement on Tuesday night in which O'Neill outlined his 'disappointment' and declared he would "address the situation after the international period". A showdown beckons.

O'Neill and Lafferty have had run-ins in the past and overcome them but World Cup hero Hamilton believes the striker's decision to rule himself out of the game against Austria and Monday's encounter in Bosnia is the beginning of the end for him at the highest level.

"To me this is a bit of a kick in the teeth to Michael. Unless there is a really good explanation that is acceptable to Michael I don't think there is any way back for Kyle," said Hamilton.

"I think it's like kicking sand in Michael's face after all he has done for Kyle. It seems like a loss of trust and respect. It was ridiculously late to tell him though at this stage we don't know what is going on with Kyle.

"Kyle has been a bit of a loose cannon over the years and maybe this time it is something he can't repair."

Former Burnley and Oxford forward Hamilton has described Lafferty as 'Superman' for some of his inspirational displays over the years which included scoring seven goals in the successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

Belfast Telegraph


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